Cultura y conciencia

Bushwick Community Space Used by Youth and the Elderly Faces Closure

News, NoticiasNelson SantanaComment
Mural by MNLOPI of youth building a hexagonal planter bed. 

Mural by MNLOPI of youth building a hexagonal planter bed. 

By ESENDOM                     August 28, 2017

Bushwick City Farm, a space that provides community members with a volunteered-run farm to congregate, could soon close its doors for good. Early this month, the owner of the lot sent a letter informing community members that their lease is up. The farm faces eviction because its owner intends to develop the land for private use.

This Stockton Street location of Bushwick City Farm has benefitted residents since opening in 2011. Neighborhood residents of all ages have free access to organic food and are also exposed to educational workshops as well as recreational events. 

“All the kids in the neighborhood come here…In the night you can just come here and relax, pick herbs out of gardens and the community really enjoys coming here,” community activist Graciela Arus said.

The farm contains a variety of plants and animals including chicken, tilapia, fig trees, nectarines, apple trees, almond trees, a hybrid tree with plums and apples, and variety of peppers, cucumbers, squash, among other things.

A diverse group of people benefit from the farm:  native New Yorkers and people who have migrated from other parts of the United States—including Puerto Rico—as well as Dominican and Bengali immigrants.  

Community members acknowledge the property does not belong to them. However, they would like city officials to provide the owner with an alternative space that they can develop. According to Marissa Metelica, “We have done a lot to make this a community space. Not only do we provide free organic food for the community, but it’s also a garden and a play space for young people and it’s an education space.”

The first generation of young people who helped to create this space are now graduating from school. One of these students, D, dropped by as ESENDOM conducted its series of interviews.

Metelica also noted, “It’s a way for me to really feel grounded in part of my community because folks who have lived here longer than me…we might not be able to meet each other in a lot of other spaces. Nobody owns it and I’ve made a lot of friends just for spending time here.

Community members are no slouch. In 2016, they received a grant from the Citizen’s Committee for the aquaponics project. This solar-powered project allows for the harvesting of food to feed tilapia fish as well as ducks. 

Watch the videos above for more details on this fight to preserve the Bushwick City Farm.